College football recruiters, start your engines.
The new recruiting rules, or lack thereof, that are set to go into effect on Aug. 1 will give coaches leeway in regards to contacting prospects that hasn't been seen in some time. The new recruiting environment will likely become a full-bore race for the top prospects, and while NCAA president Mark Emmert and others are pleased with the changes, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel says many of those directly involved in recruiting aren't happy at all:
"It's insane. It's bad on both ends," a recruiting coordinator at a major-conference school told Mandel. "If it's not regulated where coaches have periods here and there that are designated as breaks, you don't get any time with your family."
The new rules allow recruiters unlimited contact with prospects via phone call and text message, and they eliminate the "dead period," a two-week stretch in December and/or January in which face-to-face contact between a coach and a recruit isn't allowed. One phone call to a prospect per week is allowed, and texting is off limits. Basically, the dead period gives coaches and players alike a much needed break from the non-stop recruiting process.
In addition to the deregulation of phone calls and text messages and the elimination of off-time, the new rules get rid of restrictions on the amount of printed materials a school can send a prospect. Perhaps the biggest changes allow schools to hire recruiters that aren't on the regular coaching staff and eliminate restrictions on the number of off-campus recruiters at any given time. For big, money-making programs that already have a leg up on their smaller counterparts, the last two changes listed given them an even bigger leg up.
The problem with having to use coaches as recruiters is that they have to take time off from recruiting to actually coach. But if a school has enough money to hire an entirely separate recruiting staff, which some schools do, that gives it a huge advantage over a school that can't afford the extra payroll.
Emmert and his fellow proponents of the changes may view them as a streamlining of the rule book, but many see them as something else entirely: the NCAA waived the white flag on trying to enforce its current rules.
"I was a bit surprised," Tom Lemming, CBS Sports Network national recruiting expert, told Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. "It's almost like the NCAA has given up in trying to monitor all the guys."
Cedar Hill (Texas) High School head coach McGuire agrees with Lemming, telling the Dallas Morning News:
"I think the thing about texts is terrible. I think the NCAA has got to be going crazy. ... One of the reasons that they are doing it is because they can't enforce their rules. So instead of trying to enforce them, or change them in some way, they're just getting rid of them."
The recruiting process has become a bit of a joke in recent years, as brazen recruiters have skirted rules without getting caught or technically doing anything wrong. The NCAA has often been the butt of that joke, which may have prompted Emmert and co. to make the changes. But the biggest issue with the new rules is that they seem to have no regard for the actual recruits, teenagers who are trying to live their lives as high-schoolers. With so many restrictions lifted, the kids will face a deluge of materials, texts, phone calls and visits like never before.
"These kids do not need to be bombarded with texts. It will be non-stop," Evans High School football coach Chip Gierke told Murschel. "It's confusing enough for these kids."
One thing is clear, most of those in favor of the changes are in administration roles, while the loudest opponents are actually directly involved in the recruiting process. Emmert may believe that the new rules are for the greater good, but if we've learned anything from history, it'll only be a matter of time before college recruiters go overboard, and the NCAA finds itself back at the drawing board.